Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today clarified that his ministry received the letter of nomination of badminton star Saina Nehwal for the Padma Bhushan only yesterday but said that it will “examine the possibility of recommending” her name for the award tomorrow.
Saina Nehwal has said that the Badminton Association of India (BAI) had recommended her name for the Padma Bhushan in August last year but the Sports Ministry rejected her application, citing norms. But Sonowal sought to put the record straight, saying that his ministry received the letter of nomination only yesterday.
“I have seen reports in sections of the media that Sports Ministry didn’t recommend the name of Ms Saina Nehwal for the Padma Bhushan award. On ascertaining the facts, I have come to know that Sports Ministry had not received any nomination from the Badminton Association of India prior to January 3, 2015,” Sonowal said in a statement.
“A packet containing a letter, dated August 9, 2014, nominating Ms Nehwal for the Padma Bhushan award was received by the staff at my residence on January 3, 2015,” he said.
Sonowal, however, said that despite the late receipt of her application, his ministry would examine tomorrow the possibility of recommending her name to the Home Ministry for the award.
“I would also like to categorically state that Ms Saina Nehwal has made every Indian proud and I sincerely hope she will continue to bring laurels to Indian sports,” he said.
“I would like to assure everyone that my ministry would examine the possibility of recommending her name separately,” he said.
Yesterday, Saina had expressed disappointment that the ministry chose to reject her name while picking two-time Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar.
The Minister, however, said that nothing should be read into the recommendation of two-time Olympic medal winner Sushil Kumar for the prestigious award.
“Further, Sushil Kumar, a two time Olympian and medal winner, was recommended on merit. Nothing more should be read into it,” he said.
He also said that the rule which envisages a five-year gap for a person to be recommended for another Padma Award will also be examined tomorrow.
“This 5-year gap part, we will examine tomorrow. I believe, this 5-year part will also be examined by the Home Ministry,” he said.